The daunting challenge for many of our colleagues in the food supply chain is selecting the right GFSI Standard. A few quotes…….
- "The bloody supermarket said I had to have BRC";
- "Our customer told us to be 3rd party certified to SQF";
- "Our consultant recommended IFS PACSecure for it has templates for glass, metal, corrugate and plastic"
- "Our regulatory rep said we need to choose a GFSI standard soon to be ready for the Food Safety Management Act"
In meeting this challenge it is highly recommended that you go through the process of assessing the various GFSI Standards and selecting the one that is best suited for their business. In this article, we'll share our assessment and selection process.
Prior to assessing the various GFSI Standards we thought it was best to review the profile/needs/wants of the target plant:
- Plant produces blow molded plastic containers. Target markets include Health Care, Personal Care, Foods, Household and Industrial Chemicals). Plant is registered to ISO 9001 and strive to comply with other market standards including GMA, ISO 15378, 21 CFR Guidelines, Health Canada Guidelines, PS 9000, etc.> Note: Under one Quality Management System.
- The plant wanted a GFSI standard that was well aligned with the other market standards.
- The plant is very efficient with its resources and wanted a GFSI standard that provided easy to use templates/forms that were relevant to the business.
The Assessment Process started by comparing several of the GFSI Packaging Standards. This included reviewing strength/weakness with respect to various categories such as the development of the standard, the structure of the standard, synergy/opportunities, communication, mandatory ISO requirements such as Management Review and cost.
The final step in assessing the GFSI Standards was to review alignment with other Management Standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 15378, etc. The trick to doing this task is to categorize the requirements of the various standards into 3 buckets: ISO 9001, GMP/PRP and HACCP/Risk Assessment. Another trick is to identify common aspects of the various standards and differences. For common aspects, one policy/procedure would apply for the various standards. For requirements that vary amongst the standards a new policy/procedure would be required.
A summary of our findings in the GFSI Packaging Standard Selection Process is tabled below:
- Market Requirements – Components of the IFS PACsecure standard can be easily flexed to comply with our other market requirements (healthcare, personal care, corrosive chemical). Thus provision for multiple registrations (ISO 9001, GFSI, ISO 15378, GMA, etc).
- Suitability - IFS PACsecure Standard includes templates/workbooks for all the plastic extrusion processes deployed by the organization.
- Structure - Management segment of the IFS PACsecure standard is process based, thus allowing for a progressive approach to system development, improvement and integration across all functions within the organization. Also, in the management requirements section, the IFS PACSecure Standard includes top management vs. HACCP Team only.
- Cost – GFSI Standards are audited by same registration bodies, thus not advantage or disadvantage to cost.
- Certification - Facility was successfully audited to the IFS PACSecure standard. Under the same QMS, facility was successfully audited to ISO 9001.
- Customer acceptance - IFS PACsecure Standard has been accepted by our Food Customers and key Personal Care Customers.
In closing, it's important to note that the plant has achieved its goal of selecting a GFSI Packaging Standard that has integrated well with existing management systems and has facilitated continual improvement towards maintaining an effective and efficient system. The plant performance metrics, including customer satisfaction, ranks highest amongst the corporation and industry.
Written by Patrick R. Suban, Director of Quality North America, Silgan Plastics